Cristiano Ronaldo was fortunate to avoid a straight red card after catching Martin Dubravka with his studs during Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Slovakia.
Ronaldo lunged for a loose ball in the second half of the match and accidentally caught Dubravka in the face. The veteran striker protested his innocence and apologized to Dubrvaka and was shown a yellow card by the referee.
VAR did check the incident for a possible red. However, Ronaldo escaped further punishment after indicating that his foot had slid up from Dubravka’s chest to his face. Ronaldo briefly played alongside Dubravka at Manchester United last season. But there was no love lost between the pair on Friday night.
Portugal were 1-0 up at the time of the incident in the 61st minute of the game in Bratislava thanks to a goal from Bruno Fernandes. The United captain rifled into the bottom corner from a tight angle in the 43rd minute to give the away side the lead.
Ronaldo was playing in his 201st match for Portugal at the age of 38. The 38-year-old striker left United in December. His contract was terminated by mutual consent following a falling out with manager Erik ten Hag.
He later signed for Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, helping to spark the wave of high-profile moves to the Middle Eastern country.
Dubravka, meanwhile, joined United on loan from Newcastle in September 2022. This was after he lost his place in the Magpies’ side to Nick Pope. The Slovakia international arrived as back-up to David de Gea following Dean Henderson’s loan move to Nottingham Forest.
However, he moved back to Newcastle in January having made just two appearances, both of which came in the Carabao Cup. He later revealed that he was forced to delete his Twitter account due to the torrent of abuse he received following the move to United.
“Some (of the messages) were very harsh. Some of them were very offensive, to my family and myself,” he said.
“I was thinking: Do I deserve this, after five years being here, trying to do my best for the club. But that’s football. Not everyone can love you. That’s not this world.
“Twitter? The abuse there. I didn’t expect that. But there was the other side of the fans who appreciated the time I’ve spent here, and they showed me love even when I came back.”